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Entrainment, social bonding and pleasure

How does rhythmic interaction with music and other people contribute to social processes and outcomes?

Couple dancing tango pictured from the knees down.
Photo: Colourbox

This project aims to advance our understanding of how entrainment, synchronised behaviour and other related processes lead to socially beneficial outcomes such as social bonding.

Synchrony causes bonding

Entrainment, or the synchronisation of bodies and minds in time, can occur at multiple levels and different time-scales in the context of music listening. For example, listeners can entrain their body movements to the beat of the music or others' movements around them.

Entrainment can also occur at the level of brain processes: Listening to music with a steady pulse involves the entrainment of brain waves, possibly reflecting attentional processes.

Previous research has shown that even very simple synchronized actions such as walking in step or bouncing to the same rhythm with others can lead to increased social bonding and prosocial behaviour such as helping. However, we still know very little about the contributing factors or the boundary conditions of these effects.

Main research topics

The questions that this project aims to explore include:

  • Which factors contribute to synchronous movement and social bonding in concerts?
  • Can the synchrony-social bonding effect also extend beyond interpersonal interactions? Can entrained listening evoke affiliation towards the musicians or their social groups?
  • What is the relationship between social bonding and neural entrainment during musical engagement?
Tags: entrainment, social bonding, pleasure, music
Published Mar. 9, 2020 3:14 PM - Last modified June 29, 2022 10:11 AM


Associate Professor Jonna Katariina Vuoskoki